George Takei and Politics

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Danger Ace, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    A question:

    Back in the early 70s or so George Takei ran for a seat on a water commission (or something like that). He eventually dropped out of that election and ended his political ambitions. At the time he claimed it was because his appearing as Sulu in the reruns of Trek caused problems with the equal-time rules of the day - that never rang as true to me as too many other Hollywood types ran for and won public offices.

    Since George Takei came-out has he ever shed new light on this? Has ever stated that fear of being outed caused him to give up on his run for office?

    Just curious as that would make more sense to me than the "equal time" thing.
     
  2. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    He ran for a Los Angeles city council seat in the early 1970s. He didn't drop out of the race; he lost the election. He was later appointed to the Southern California Rapid Transit District board, and cast the tie-breaking vote that got light rail going again in the city during the production of TMP.
     
  3. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Folks may recall that back in 1973, George Takei (“Lieutenant Sulu”) was running for City Councilman in Los Angeles’ 10th City Council district—the City Council district that had become vacant when the City Councilman who had held it previously, Mr. Tom Bradley, was elected Mayor of Los Angeles just a short time earlier; he obviously could no longer be a City Councilman while also being mayor, so Tom Bradley had to vacate the City Council seat. George Takei then ran for Bradley's (now vacant) seat.


    [​IMG]

    In an odd election commission ruling, since the cartoon version of George Takei would be “appearing” in “Beyond the Farthest Star,” right in the middle of the campaign, television station KNBC in Los Angeles would have been obligated to grant “equal time” to all the other candidates running against Mr. Takei in the election. So to circumvent the problem, on September 8, 1973, while the rest of the country saw "Beyond the Farthest Star," KNBC simply aired the episode “Yesteryear” instead—an episode in which, conveniently, Mr. Takei didn't appear. KNBC aired “Yesteryear” again the following Saturday, too—September 15, 1973; Angelenos got the same Star Trek episode two weeks in a row. Fortunately, the City Council election was held on Tuesda,y September 18, 1973 and KNBC didn’t have to do any further episode reshuffling. (By the way: Mr. Takei lost the election to Mr. David Cunningham by 1,675 votes. Cunningham actually had been endorsed for the seat by his predecessor Mayor Tom Bradley--so Cunningham had a bit of an inside track.) It wasn’t until a couple of months later, on December 22, 1973 when “Beyond the Farthest Star” was shown as a re-run for the rest of the country that Angelenos finally got to see that episode.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  4. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    Thank you both for clearing that up for me. It is sincerely appreciated.
     
  5. Grant

    Grant Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^^Oddly enough I recall Takei claiming the OPs version of the story!!

    He did seem to use it as an excuse at one point. I very clearly recall him saying that.

    Perhaps it was like the MLK story--it 'evolved'
     
  6. Sam_I_Am

    Sam_I_Am Captain Captain

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    He was also an 'alternative delegate' to the 1972 Democratic Convention.
     
  7. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Ah, so the plot thickens a bit....

    Back in 1980, George Takei threw his hat into the ring to campaign for the California State Assembly (the lower of California's two Legislative houses). Mr. Takei entered the race for California State Assembly District 46--one of California's 80 Assembly Districts. (The 46th District is, logically enough, one of the Assembly Districts located in Mr. Takei's hometown of the greater Los Angeles area.)

    Mr. Takei attempted to mount a Primary challenge against Democrat Mr. Mike Roos in February of 1980. Mr. Roos was the incumbent in the 46th Assembly District, so Mr. Takei would have an uphill battle. But Roos had only been elected "recently" in 1976, so Roos wasn't too entrenched yet in California politics, and Takei had hopes of a successful primary challenge. Unfortunately, Mr. Roos had other ideas.

    At this point, Starlog Issue 43 from February of 1981 picks up the story better than I could.

    TAKEI BACKS SHOW,
    DROPS OUT OF RACE

    Actor George Takei decided during the
    past election season to take the road a
    number of actors have taken recently— to
    follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and
    enter politics. But Takei's Star Trek role
    caused him to give up that dream. A fifty-
    year-old law that requires politicians to be
    given equal time on the airways was his
    nemesis.

    In his bid to become a state assemblyman
    in the last election, Takei's opponent, Mike
    Roos, insisted on equal time from local sta-
    tion KTLA, Los Angeles, on which episodes
    of Star Trek are rerun. The station, instead of
    giving in to Roos, considered two other al-
    ternatives: taking the series off the air alto-
    gether during the election season or blacking
    out episodes in which Takei appeared. Rather
    than see the series tampered with, Takei
    decided to withdraw from the race.

    "It wasn't just my earnings that were af-
    fected," Takei explains, referring to the
    residuals the actors receive from reruns, "but
    those of all the people involved in the show."

    Takei felt that Roos' insistence for equal
    time with his Star Trek performances was ter-
    ribly unjust. "If he really wanted equal
    time," Takei postulates, "he should have
    gotten into my costume and mouthed my
    words. Besides there are episodes where I am
    zapped by an alien force and act erratically or
    catch an alien disease and go crazy. Would
    that help me with voters?"

    This isn't the first time Takei has run for
    office and been charged with having an unfair
    advantage because of his Star Trek image. In
    1973, he ran for the Los Angeles City Council
    and encountered similar problems.

    "Let me tell you how ridiculous this law
    is," Takei says. "When I ran for the city
    council, an animated series of Star Trek had
    to be blacked out in Los Angeles because my
    voice accompanied an idealized drawing of
    me."

    So, after meeting wih Roos and resolving whatever points of contention were drawing Takei into the Primary race, Takei did, indeed withdraw from the 1980 California State Assembly race. (I don't know how much, if at all, Mr. Takei's then-closeted sexual orentation played a factor in his withdrawl from the race. I take him at his word that a solution to the "equal time" problem that would have caused his fellow Trek family to lose out on their residuals was the motivating factor for his withdrawl.)

    By the way: Mr. Roos went on to win the November 4, 1980 election, and he served in the California Assembly until 1991.

    November 4, 1980 election results
    California State Assembly District 46

    Mike Roos Democrat 65.8%
    Alon Cory Republican 28.1%
    Johnnie R. Garner Libertarian 6.1%
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Funny, but by that time there'd have been no residuals to collect given the SAG contracts in force at the time of Star Trek.
     
  9. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    Do we know that? Could he have been speaking of TAS? Union contracts generally set minimums with individuals free to try and negotiate terms that exceed those called for in the CBA.
     
  10. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    No idea what his compensation was for the animated series, but for the live action series, Takei recieved SAG scale when it came to reruns. That meant a percentage of his original payment for the first five reruns only -- and after that, he got nothing.

    Even Shatner, who earned more than SAG scale when it came to reruns, was only paid for the first five reruns.

    Subsequently, the SAG contract was renegotiated, and now actors are paid a percentage of their original salary each and every time a rerun airs.
     
  11. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    There might have been others involved in the production who were still getting payments at that time. I don't know what WGA, DGA, PGA, ASCAP, or BMI payments might have been. But there might have been others impacted besides just the actors.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
  12. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and the details of your post was the general, accepted story of Takei's exit.

    Very interesting times going into the 1980s.

    Thanks for posting everything! :techman:
     

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